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*Heading into the first practice of training camp, BaltimoreRavens.com will offer previews of those positions that feature a tough competition, focusing on who will be fighting for playing time. Today, the safties take the spotlight.
The safety position has been a hot topic for the Ravens all offseason.
Will Ed Reed be healthy enough to play in 2010? If so, how many games can fans expect from the perennial Pro Bowler?
The Ravens do have depth on the back end, as Tom Zbikowski stepped in ably for an injured Reed last year. And the recent signing of Ken Hamlin – a former Pro Bowler himself – adds another playmaker.
There is no doubt that Baltimore's safeties will be jockeying for their depth chart status once training camp hits so , here is a look at the important competition in the Ravens' secondary:
Ed Reed, 9th seasonWhat He's Done:The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year was a revelation yet again, with three interceptions during the regular season and two in the playoffs. But, he missed four games with hip, ankle and groin injuries.
What He's Going For:An offseason hip procedure has Reed looking first to get fit. While his recent "35 percent" comments can't leave anyone in Baltimore completely comfortable, at least we know he now plans on returning in 2010.
What He Needs To Do:Reed must continue the rehabilitation he's performing in Denver before returning to training camp. If he's fit enough by Week 1, the starting spot is his, but there is no guarantee of his health at this point.
Dawan Landry, 4th seasonWhat He's Done:Landry made an incredible comeback from a near-paralyzing injury in 2008 to start all 16 games and take a more vocal role with Reed in and out of the lineup. The former fifth-round draft pick was second on the team with 84 tackles and tops with four picks.
What He's Going For:After his breakout 2009 campaign, Landry can angle for a Pro Bowl bid if he keeps improving.
What He Needs To Do:Steady is Landry's key word. He was a constant fixture at the Ravens' offseason program, which should do wonders for his chemistry with the other Ravens' safeties. He'll need that considering leadership and communication will be required with the potential of a rotating cast next to him.
Tom Zbikowski, 3rd seasonWhat He's Done:Subbing for Reed last year, "Zibby" proved he was a legitimate starter, posting two interceptions and 16 stops. But, the Notre Dame product was also a special teams beast with 28 special teams tackles.
What He's Going For: Zbikowski wants to hold off the other Ravens' safeties vying to be the top backup. His experience with the first unit should give him an early advantage.
What He Needs To Do:With the uncertainty surrounding Reed, Zbikowski will have ample opportunities to make plays in training camp. He just needs to keep playing up to the high level he's shown in the past.
Haruki Nakamura, 3rd seasonWhat He's Done:Nakamura began to develop into a special teams standout and a sub in the Ravens' dime package, but his season was cut short after nine contests by an ankle injury.
What He's Going For:Considering he rejoined the Ravens' OTAs late in the spring, Nakamura first wants to show he has regained the strength in a right leg that atrophied after months of little to no use.
What He Needs To Do:Special teams will again be Nakamura's ticket, and he needs to stand out among the other young players looking to earn a roster spot with special teams performance.
Ken Hamlin, 8th seasonWhat He's Done:A hurt ankle kept Hamlin out of four games last year, but he did tally 52 tackles in 12 starts.
What He's Going For:The experienced Hamlin is challenging Zbikowski for the top backup spot and perhaps regain a starting role if Reed can't play. Despite a lackluster 2009 campaign, he said he has "nothing to prove" after being released by the Dallas Cowboys.
What He Needs To Do:Hamlin should first focus on absorbing the Ravens' defensive playbook. Once he gets on the same page with everyone, he can just play loose and let his athletic and physical nature take over.
Marcus Paschal, 3rd seasonWhat He's Done:Last year, Paschal joined the Ravens' active roster in mid-December and saw action in two games, notching one tackle.
What He's Going For:Paschal has his eye on a special teams role and depth at safety.
What He Needs To Do:The preseason games will be critical for Paschal to climb up the ranks considering the experience ahead of him. In those contests, the journeyman will have opportunities to show he should stick around.